Are you ready for the July Birthstone Block Sew Along? If you haven’t picked up the kit, there’s still time to receive it and make it before the month’s up. And if you just need the pattern, grab one today!
The July Birthstone Block is super pretty. I love all the red, pink, and purple hues. There are a TON of pieces to this pattern, so I highly suggest you follow MJ Kinman’s advice to gather some envelopes to organize the pieces for each fabric color. I did NOT do this and, sure enough, I had to re-cut one piece because I couldn’t find it after cutting everything!
Some of these pieces are SUPER small. Just know that you’ll be able to piece them together following the precise markings on each piece, so don’t worry.
Use a clear ruler, rotary cutter, and mat for cutting out each piece. Typically when I cut out pattern pieces, I cut off the black lines. But I wanted to have a little room to groove (albeit VERY little), so I cut between the black line for each piece.
MJ suggests using an 18″-long ruler and a 6″ ruler, both with 1/4″ measurements. You may find it helpful to mark the 1/4″ mark with Washi tape or painter’s tape to not confuse that line with any other lines on the ruler. The small ruler is especially helpful for the small pieces.
The first fuse, which tacks the freezer paper to the fabric, is a tedious process. Make sure you give yourself extra room between pieces. MJ suggests a generous 1/2″. I used even more in some cases, especially with the super pointy triangle pieces. There is plenty of fabric in the bundle, so you don’t need to be too conservative.
Make sure you have a sharp rotary cutter. I installed a new blade just to be sure I wouldn’t have to cut and re-cut each piece. This is a lot of cutting!
Here are a few products I thought really helped the piecing process.
- Daylight Wafer Thin Light Box. After I cut out each piece, I placed them over the pattern key by section to ensure I had all the pieces I needed for that quadrant (This is how I discovered that one quadrant was missing a piece!). The light box allowed me to see each letter/number and markings on each piece from the key and was super helpful.
- Fine-tip Tweezers. When piecing the super small pieces, especially thin triangles, these tweezers helped secure small points in place as I sewed. I also used them as a stylus to hold down seam allowances as I stitched over them. The tip is slightly angled and strong, and perfect for this project.
- Lint roller. After piecing, trim the little “corners” from pieces to reduce bulk in the subsequent seam allowances. I did this during the pressing process, and then passed a lint roller over the fabric to get rid of the excess thread and fabric easily. It was also helpful cleaning up around my sewing machine between sections.
Ensure your marks align perfectly during and after sewing. I had to re-fuse a few paper pieces after sewing to adjust the markings and trim the fabric pieces to account for seam allowances on adjacent sides. If you give yourself a generous seam allowance, you’ll be able to do this without any trouble.
After sewing each quadrant of the July Birthstone Block, I placed them onto the light box to double check the placement of each and determine which sides to sew together first.
I sewed quadrant 1 to quadrant 2, and then quadrant 3 to quadrant 4. Then I sewed each side to each other, making sure the center triangles aligned perfectly.
THE BIG REVEAL
Then it’s the best part: the big reveal! I SO enjoyed peeling away each paper template to reveal the fabric underneath! I felt very accomplished.
Make sure to press the block from the wrong side first, to ensure seams are still behaving and in the original pressed direction. Then give it a final press from the right side.
I’m really looking forward to next month’s August block: the Peridot. Grab your August kit and join me for more Birthstone Sew Along fun!